Yesterday, April 26, at 9 am local time and on the 68th birthday of China's navy PLAN, China's 2nd aircraft carrier of the Liaoning-class has been floated off its dry dock at Dalian. The ceremony was attended by members of the Central Committee of China's Communist Party and many high-ranking military leaders.
While the first carrier "Liaoning" was based on the semi-finished Soviet-era vessel "Varyag" which belonged to the Kuznetsov-class, China's second carrier has been completely home-built. Its name is still unknown, but rumours are saying it might probably be named "Shandong" on a later occasion.
A Chinese language news portal quoted by western sources had previously reported that the ship will have an aircraft capacity of 28-36 aircraft split between Chinese Shenyang J-15 fighters and helicopters, which is the same as that of the Liaoning. According to the new vessel's outward apperance, the most significant change from the "Liaoning" seems to be a reconfiguration of the phased array radar panels, with those on the new ship facing diagonally outward on both sides of bridge fore and aft.
The new 50.000 tons aircraft carrier like the fully-operational "Liaoning" might still be able to use heavy SS-N-19 anti-ship guided missiles but which has never been confirmed. 12 SS-N-19 missiles of Soviet-era origin once belonged to the armament of a Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier and might present a serious danger to western ship units if still available, especially when used with a nuclear warhead.
[Source: People's Network and other Chinese and western military sources on April 26/27, 2017]
On today's press conference, summoned by China's Ministry of Defence, navy officer Zhang Zheng was specially praised for his outstanding abilities. Zhang Zheng served as the commander of China's first aircraft carrier "Liaoning" from September 2012 until May 2016 and was later promoted to the position of a Deputy Chief of Staff of the People's Liberation Army Navy PLAN. [People's Network on April 27, 2017]